Improving climbing, without actually climbing?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Walrus, Jan 14, 2007.

  1. Walrus

    Walrus New Member

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    In June I will be travelling to France to ride a tour in the Alps. It's basically La Marmotte over 2 days (~200km including >4000m ascent). I'm a reasonable climber, but these climbs (particularly Galibier and Alpe d'Huez) will really challenge me :D . For geographical reasons, I won't be able to hit the hills until the last 6-8 weeks, so I'd like to maximise my time from now till then. What is the best "at home" training method to improve my ability to climb, without actually hitting the hills? Either on indoor trainer, or on flat/rolling terrain.

    If I can increase my watts/kg in certain types of intervals or tests, with that do?

     
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  2. sidewind

    sidewind New Member

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    The L4 intervals, e.g. 2*20 min, will do it.
     
  3. Bullseye_blam

    Bullseye_blam New Member

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    Yeah, I would do these on a trainer; you might put something under your front wheel in order to change the angle to more of a climbing position, too.

    You'll be working on your sustained power; I'm sure being in the mountains is a lot different than the rolling hills here, whereas you'll be going upward for 30-90 minutes at a time without much chance to recover [unless you stop to take a look around!]. So keep that in mind as well. :)

    -Eric
     
  4. wiredued

    wiredued New Member

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    Indoor trainer seems to be the best way to hold L4 for 20 minutes if you don't have a mountain near by. For some reason unless I am trying to break my 20 minute personal best average speed I always slide back to L3 when outside.
     
  5. Pureshot78

    Pureshot78 New Member

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    Don't underestimate the effect of reducing the KG part of that watts/kg ratio. :D Doing intervals from 80% - 105% of your 1 hour power and a 500 calorie per day defecit (that's 1 lb per week lost) should put you well on your way.
     
  6. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    As discussed on various web forums, this does not work, doesn't make any scientific sense.
     
  7. Bullseye_blam

    Bullseye_blam New Member

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    So you're saying you should ride in a position that's different than one you'd be riding up a mountain?

    I don't see how that makes much sense, either...

    -Eric
     
  8. sogood

    sogood New Member

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    Unless you are standing, in which case there may be a few degrees of difference in your joints. But when you sit on 3 point contact, your body geometry is no different whether you are climbing or riding on the flat. As for the perceived extra power required (by some), it just doesn't happen as you are static with an incline across the wheel base.

    And as other with indepth knowledge in sports sciences has stated, there's no appreciable advantage in training in that position.
     
  9. Walrus

    Walrus New Member

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    Thanks for your help everyone.
     
  10. squidwranglr

    squidwranglr New Member

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    Indeed. Even a 10% grade is equivalent to an ~5.5 degree inclination. Expressed differently, a steep 10% grade (1 unit rise for every 10 unit run) would translate to a 10 cm higher front wheel over a 1 m (approximately) front-to-back wheel-base. Hardly a major difference in body position.

    Berend
     
  11. rmur17

    rmur17 New Member

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    Have you tried it?
     
  12. dhk2

    dhk2 Active Member

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    Another point is to make sure you have low enough gears to allow you to maintain your best-power cadence when you're climbing, or conversely, make sure you train at the realistic cadences you'll be using on the mountains. You don't want to train long intervals to optimize power at 95 rpm seated, but then find on the actual grades you can only maintain 40 rpm by standing.
     
  13. Cod

    Cod New Member

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    I'm in a similar position, we're training for the Pyrenees (Tourmalet, Aspin etc) in May but the hills around here are not steep enough or are too short to get a sense of what's requried. The best advice I've seen so far is that long climbs are like Time Trials, so to train for them do plenty of uninterrupted hard effort routes. Wind resistance helps too! I'm taking a 3 pronged approach: tough flat-out 40 milers; weight training to build power in the quads to improve power to weight ratio; and watching my diet to reduce overall body weight to reduce the payload. Hope it works. If not, I reserve the right to turn around!
     
  14. Walrus

    Walrus New Member

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    Sounds like we have a very similar road ahead of us. good luck with the alternative training. Let's hope it works a treat!
     
  15. squidwranglr

    squidwranglr New Member

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    I can see why you'd be inclined to ask that question given my purely analytical answer, but I was just trying to complement the other posts sharing anecdotal and published qualitative data.

    I assure you, yes, I've tried it. As a matter of fact, in the two and a half years that I've owned a trainer, I've used it in three different "regimes." Initially, I used it in a "nose down" set-up because I was cheap and didn't buy the plastic "front wheel booster" and didn't bother even slipping a phone book or two under it. About six months or so in, mostly due to influence from a thread similar to this one and due to, well, some discomfort in male-specific anatomical areas from being in a nose-down position, I decided to give a shot to putting a couple of phone books under the front wheel to raise to a climbing angle. Things went on like that until one of the phone books got accidentally chucked out as trash, so for the last year or so I've been on a "level" configuration. I can say very easily that my best climbing performances on the road have come within the last year and correlates far more strongly with having the right kind of structured power-driven workouts (which I was doing before, too) than with the inclination of the bike "to simulate climbing."

    That is, of course, my own opinion, but I think there's evidence, both qualitative and quantitative (as I tried to present earlier) which argues that the specifity one needs to seek in training for climbing is more in the area of sustained power output and far less in climbing angle simulation.

    Berend
     
  16. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    Agree with everything you say here - just for emphasis, the body weight part of your equation is crucial.
    If you can reduce your weight, this will improve your ability to climb.

    BTW, I looked at some stats for climbs in Wicklow : Laragh to the top of the Wicklow Gap is 6kms : good climbing terrain and 8% gradient.
    Slieve Mann is another climb : if you can get plenty a couple of weekends climbing these perhaps 2 or 3 times per session this should hold you in goodsted.
     
  17. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit New Member

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    This has been discussed in these forums ad nauseam, however, people still believe you need powerful legs to turn the pedals. This is just not true. In one year I have improved my power on the bike beyond my wildest dreams and have not done one single rep (employing weights) on the legs. Improved power is all down to work on the bike, i.e. L3-L7 depending on your goal. If it is just endurance events you intend to do, then perhaps you could eliminate L6 and L7. I do them however, because I feel they benefit my L4 FT intervals.
    I never bother with L2, which to me is a waste of valuable training time. L3 in the winter is perhaps not a bad idea just to keep things oiled. Others I'm sure will disagree but that's my 5 yens worth.;) TYSON

    Oh, and my climbing has improved beyond recognition.:)
     
  18. alpha2k

    alpha2k New Member

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    When I'm preparing for a climbing event on flat or trainer, I do some intervals with candence between 70-80 to get used to the pedaling/breathing rhythm and position.
     
  19. Cod

    Cod New Member

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    Could somebody fill me in on L2, L3 etc, are these heart rate bands, divided into zones according to percentage of max HR? I'm familiar with Aerobic, LT bands but what are L6 and L7?
    Thanks
    Chris
     
  20. Sillyoldtwit

    Sillyoldtwit New Member

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    Cod I see you have been a member of these forums since 2005. Sorry mate but with all due respect, you haven't read very much, or to be more precise, not enough info about weight training to build power in the quads. This subject has been discussed ad nauseum in these forums, and the general consensus among riders who know what they're talking about is this:

    Weight training will not improve your power to weight ratio in the slightest. The time wasted weight training could be better spent on the bike building a bigger engine. That is, structured training with plenty of L4 FTP intervals, and L5 VO2Max intervals and possibly even some L6 work. These will improve your climbing ability without even smelling a mountain.

    When you mention weight reduction, then you're talking. Get the pounds off, build a bigger engine employing the training mentioned above. More work on the bike will also serve to help you lose those unwanted pounds, and before you know it you'll be climbing like a mountain goat.

    Best of luck with your ride in May! Tyson;)
     
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